DT 29172 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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DT 29172

Daily Telegraph Cryptic No 29172

Hints and tips by Falcon

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment ****

Greetings from Ottawa, where we are still enjoying autumn weather — unlike Calgary where winter has hit with a vengeance. As I will be travelling west to Manitoba next week, I hope Alberta keeps its snow to itself.

For the next while, you will be seeing me more frequently than usual as Kath and I pick up some extra shifts while pommers copes with the aftermath of last month’s rain in Spain — which unfortunately did not confine itself to the plain.

Today’s puzzle is a trademark proXimal creation — a puzzle which would be a pangram were it not missing an X. I found the puzzle very difficult. On first read through, I had solutions for only one across and one down clue. I slowly teased out more and gradually started to get on the setter’s wavelength (and started to enjoy the puzzle more). I finished, albeit using tools to help in solving the final two or three clues — but the time taken far exceeded my normal solving time.

In the hints below, underlining identifies precise definitions and cryptic definitions, and indicators are italicized. The answers will be revealed by clicking on the ANSWER buttons.

Please leave a comment telling us what you thought of the puzzle.


1a   New York gang includes small kids (5)
JESTS — enrol S(mall) in a fictional gang from a 1957 Broadway musical

4a   Report of perfume demonstration at focal location (9)
CENTRALLY — sounds like (report of) a perfume demonstration or protest

9a   Grant Mike dubious promotion (9)
MARKETING — angram (dubious) of the first two words of the clue

10a   European Union almost provided backing? It’s unclear (5)
VAGUE — start with the abbreviation for the European Union followed by a word meaning provided or handed over with its final letter removed (almost); then reverse everything (backing) [thanks to Senf for pointing out that I had neglected to include the final step in the recipe]

11a   Find adult aged shunning all outsiders and humour (7)
INDULGE — remove the outside letters (shunning all outsiders) from the first three words in the clue

12a   Engineer cross after permit is rejected (7)
TELFORD — a word meaning to cross a river without using 19d split (1,6) follows the reversal of a synonym for permit or allow; I hope Jane recognized the designer of the Menai Suspension Bridge

13a   What happens when PM begins making reforms (6)
AMENDSpost meridiem begins when ante meridiem

15a   Machine part chap must regularly handle (8)
CAMSHAFT — a regular sequence of letters from ChAp MuSt followed by the handle of a sword, for instance

18a   Warm trio of islands to the west (8)
SOCIABLE — string together three islands, one of Napoleon’s places of exile, the single letter abbreviation for island, and a Greek island known for its lettuce; then reverse the lot

20a   Geographical feature seen in Tuscany only (6)
CANYON — a lurker hiding in the final two words of the clue

23a   Expert with good month to review app, perhaps (7)
PROGRAM — concatenate a paid expert, G(ood), and the reversal of the abbreviation for a late winter month

24a   Sandwich and wine consumed in part of golf club (7)
TOASTIE — a sparkling Italian wine contained in part of a golf club — not the grip, not the shaft, not the heel, …(keep going, you’ll get there eventually)

26a   Swimmer is one taking over from ace in team (5)
SQUID — replace A(ce) by a Roman one in a team (perhasps a special-purpose group of police officers)

27a   Secretly chummy with soldier (2,7)
IN PRIVATE — a short adjective (usually followed by with) denoting chummy or on friendly terms followed by a low ranking soldier

28a   Too keen again, agree to change (9)
OVEREAGER — a synonym for again and an anagram of AGREE

29a   Visitor shot short host at the end (5)
GUEST — a shot, stab, or speculation with its final letter removed (short) and the final letter (at the end) of hosT


1d   Islanders endlessly paid to fill preserve containers (9)
JAMAICANS — strip both ends from pAId and insert the result between a sweet preserve for topping toast and some containers

2d   Cut peel of squash and beetroot (5)
SHRED — start with the outer letters (peel) of SquasH and append an embarrassed complexion

3d   Inflated wheel, oddly, to go in wheel-less conveyance (7)
SWELLED — load the odd letters of WhEeL into a conveyance for travelling over ice or snow

4d   Herbs beginning to cause rash (6)
CHIVES — the initial letter of Cause and a rash producing welts

5d   Near agreement to set up retirement drink (8)
NIGHTCAP — a poetic word for near followed by a reversal (to set up in a down clue) of another word for agreement

6d   Hates concerning learner beset by struggles (7)
REVILES — a short Latin preposition denoting with regard to or concerning precedes our usual learner driver sitting in a verb meaning competes or struggles

7d   Yearlong travels around Italy for soldier (9)
LEGIONARY — an anagram (travels) of YEARLONG around the IVR code for Italy

8d   Produce that is left in yard (5)
YIELD — insert the Latin abbreviation for that is and the abbreviation for left into the multi-letter abbreviation for yard

14d   Lucerne redeveloped to house very big arena (9)
ENCLOSURE — an anagram (developed) of LUCERNE wraps around the clothing size for very big people

16d   Most caring figure starts to drop everything and relax (9)
TENDEREST — line up a numerical figure (whose Roman version, appropriately given the solution, represents a kiss), the starting letters of Drop Everything, and a word meaning to take a break or relax

17d   Holding outdoor activity around lake (8)
CLAMPING — an outdoor activity (which, for me, involves living in a tent) around L(ake)

19d   Trim graduate climbing hill-range (7)
ABRIDGE — reverse an arts graduate (climbing in a down clue) and add a long, narrow hilltop

21d   Mother possessed by a spirit that’s wicked (7)
AMAZING — place an informal name for your mother inside the A from the clue and some spirit or enthusiasm

22d   Daze from port drunk with us (6)
STUPOR — an anagram (drunk) of PORT and (with) US

23d   Sauce is something unwelcome on duck (5)
PESTO — a nuisance tops a very poor result in cricket

25d   Craft in English river capsized (5)
TRADE — start with a charade of E(nglish) and a river in Devon; then the result is reversed (capsized)

I will give clue of the day to 13a which was the last clue solved — a resounding clang was produced by the penny when it finally dropped.


65 comments on “DT 29172

  1. I found this just a middle of the road puzzle really, I would have to give it ***/**** for difficulty as I had to have a break and then have another go to solve the final few. But, as I am always satisfied when I can finish without aids, I am a happy bunny.

    The top half went in quite easily, followed by the SW, but there was a little head scratching around 24a (didn’t know the golf reference), 15a (couldn’t get MANIFOLD out of my head) and 16a.

    However, for its sheer cheek, 13a is my COTD.

    Many thanks to proXimal and Falcon.

  2. Another excellent, most entertaining puzzle. Harder than normal and all the more enjoyable as a result. Favourite clues included 13A, 24A & 3D but best of all, last one in, the very clever 18A. 4*/5* for me and many thanks to the setter.

  3. Even allowing for solving in a noisy doctors’ waiting room, I thought this was on the tricky side – more of a Toughie than a backpager

    An enjoyable time was had so thank you to Mr X and Falcon.

    1. Wow that’s a bit of a role reversal for you Sue! Funny how we see things differently. I read your comment on the Chalicea Toughie on Tuesday saying that it “belonged on the back page”… but I couldn’t make “head nor tail” of it and gave up, yet I completed this one (albeit with a degree of head scratching!)

  4. 2.5*/4.5*. What a wonderfully entertaining puzzle from the setter who ignores the letter X. Even the excellent Quickie pun has an X sound without actually using the letter!
    My favourite was 18a with 13a running it close.
    Many thanks to proXimal and to Falcon.

  5. Although I got the “all correct” message, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why 13a and 18a were right so very many thanks to Falcon for putting me out of my misery.

    I needed to consult the Thesaurus for the synonym for team, went through all the ones I could think of and that one just wouldn’t come.

    Last one in was 15a and I thoroughly enjoyed it all. Agree with Cryptic Sue, it was a little more difficult than normal but all the more satisfying for that.

    Many thanks to all.

  6. I usually find the proXimal puzzles really difficult and struggle to finish them. However this one was more straightforward than most and was a **/**** for me. There were lots of great clues. I liked 13a, 15a and 1d. Thanks to Falcon for the hints and to our setter for a really enjoyable puzzle.

  7. Must have been right into the wavelength as this all just flowed from 1a. Delayed for a moment or two with 15a as I thought the compiler had given us an extra S in the middle until I googled the meaning of the last four letters. Enjoyed it all and unfair to pick a favourite but I will – 18a. Overall **/****. Thanks to proXimal and Falcon.

  8. I loved this. The reliable precision of proXimal’s clueing means that one can often just follow the instructions in the wordplay to find an unexpected synonym of the definition emerging. Pretty much every clue was top-notch. I especially liked the topical 10a and 13a, 18a, 26a, 27a, 2d, 5d, 8d, 21d, and the Quickie pun.

    Thanks to proXimal for the entertainment and to Falcon for the hints and tips.

  9. Definitely a cranial workout, but also quite enjoyable – 3.5*/3.5*.
    While the 14d arena is shown in the answer’s listing in the Small Red Book, I am not convinced that they are completely synonymous.
    Candidates for favourite – 4a, 18a, and 1d – and the winner is 18a.
    Thanks to proXimal and Falcon – none of the white stuff here in Manitoba, but if you are going to be anywhere near the Red River next week you might need to bring waders.
    P.S. I think you forgot to tell us to reverse everything (backing) in 10a.

  10. I loved doing battle with this, on first read through I thought it was going to be really tough. There were precious few “gimmes” but I chip chip chipped away at it and it all fell into place nicely if not speedily. I thought the cluing was precise but really creative (29, 4 and 18a being prime examples). My COTD though goes to 13a…simply brilliant.
    Many thanks to both the setter and to Falcon for the marvellous entertainment.

    Ps Loved the quickie pun and the contemporary use of 21d

  11. On a streak having finished for 4 days in a row now needed help to parse 18ac otherwise found it fairly straightforward once I got going. Thanks to setter and falcon for clearing up 18

  12. That woke up the old grey cells with a start – relieved to see that Falcon didn’t find it a walk in the park either!
    Hugely enjoyable right down to the Quickie pun.

    Top two places went to 13&18a with a broad smile for 1d.

    Many thanks to proXimal and to Falcon for the review – yes, I had no problem with the engineer!
    PS Bet Kath’s glad that it wasn’t her turn in the chair!

      1. Thanks Jane and Senf – you’re both right although I have to say that doing the hints for the trickier crosswords is always more fun than doing them for a ‘walk in the park’.

  13. Excellent puzzle. As others have said, tricky but enjoyable.
    Probably just me, but Jay’s puzzles make me feel like I’m sitting in a country pub in a comfy chair solving over a pint of Guinness
    Chris Lancaster’s puzzles remind me of the second pint in the same chair, playing ‘Guess the Punchline’
    Dada’s puzzles sometimes make me feel like I’ve now been in the pub for far too long
    RayT’s puzzles are like watching a table magician perform and thinking ‘How’s he done that? Think laterally, Roy’
    ProXimal was once my nemesis – now I find them extremely enjoyable for a different reason again. I can imagine him prowling around slapping the palm of his hand with a ruler saying ‘Pay attention laddie’ :smile:
    I’ll get my coat…
    Many thanks to proXimal and to Falcon

    1. I think you could have added ‘a big log fire’ and ‘a couple of muddy dogs’ (labs or collies preferably) to how Jay’s crosswords make you feel and I’d be there with you like a shot!

  14. Pretty straightforward I think. 18a was really clever. Luckily I remembered “West Side Story” for 1a as I was looking for a “J” at this point. Wasn’t sure about 3d, an ugly word and 4d made me itch!
    With a weather warning at this end, it is always interesting to read how other bloggers are faring around the world. I’m particularly sorry for Pommers. I hope he knows we care.

  15. To my surprise I found this really straightforward, finished at a steady pace.

    Would rank the puzzle **/****, obviously smack on my wavelength!

    COTD was, like others, 13a, closely followed by 15a. I do recall seeing 13a a few months ago in another puzzle?

    Thanks to all

    1. Yeah, I get the feeling of recently encountering a variant on 13a too … but I now can’t find where.

      It did crop up twice close together a decade ago, in 26024 (Thursday) and Toughie 242 (Giovanni) — as well as in 2014’s Toughie 1287 (Micawber) and 2017’s 28539 (Giovanni again).

      Libellule and Tilsit in 2009 both remarked on having seen that wordplay before.

      The downside of being such a fantastic clue is that people remember it!

        1. Yeah, I thought that would happen — you’re all super-speedy at spotting it and allowing it through, though.

          (I did make those all site-relative links, starting with just ‘/’ rather than ‘http://bigdave44.com/’, to see if the spam filter would let them through, on the basis that a spammer is unlikely to be promoting other pages on your own website. Apparently not though.)

          Back to more fun matters, and that Quickie pun is fantastic — possibly my favourite ever.

          It reminded me of a photo puzzle the Saturday Telegraph ran in the 1990s: a series of pictures, each a indicating a word (often the first or last time of a person), such that when the phrase is spoken out loud it resembles the title of a popular song.

          Anybody else remember that, or even any examples?

          1. Both myself and the author get a notification email for all comments that go into moderation – as far as I am concerned it depends on when the email arrives as to how quickly I respond.

  16. I found this a very enjoyable challenge. 18a was my pick of a good bunch.

    Thanks to proXimal, and to Falcon.

  17. A lovely puzzle for a day off. One of those where I could not solve a great deal on the first pass but, thanks to the excellent clues, was able to tease out in a methodical manner. Took me a little longer than usual, meaning I had to start the day’s tasks a little late, much to the chagrin of Mrs Moon! On review it all looked so simple. 18 across was my favourite

  18. Great puzzle. Spotted the near pangram early on – no X – must be Poximal. Went in steadily but not quickly. Best backpager of the week thus far. I was only listening to Bernstein’s recording of West Side Story a couple of days ago, so 1a was no problem and was the first in. I will go for 12a as my pick of the day.

  19. This was a real gem of a puzzle, certainly tougher to solve than the average back pager, but so rewarding to complete. The quality of the clueing was very high, with some verging on quite brilliant. I think I will have to go for 13a as the COTD with the equally clever 12a and 18a beaten by a short head.

    Thanks to the X man for the terrific challenge and to Falcon.

  20. Very entertaining and a little challenging in places 24a took some sorting out, not being a golfer(!) I quite liked 4a my first one in, then after a read through strangely 27a. Thanks to Falcon and Mr X.

  21. Superb puzzle – thanks to proXimal and Falcon.
    It’s difficult to pick out top clues because there are so many good ones – I’ll plump for 1a, 12a and 13a.

  22. I really liked this one and although it wasn’t a quick finish it took no longer than normal (which isn’t very fast anyway) once I’d got the first few clues. Like several others I particularly like Proximal’s taut wordplay and precise clueing although I still needed Falcon’s help to fully understand 18a. Overall **/**** with 13a COTD; and a very clever quickie to finish. Overall a top notch puzzle so many thanks to Proximal and Falcon.

  23. ****/* for me. Not even entertaingly difficult. If as someone wrote it was more like a Toughie I am glad I haven’t tried any. I can’t thank the setter for this puzzle as I realised from the start it was the usual Thursday horror but thanks to Falcon for holding my hand in the darkness.

  24. I wish I hadn’t heard of pangram sad I got fixated on finding an x and a W. Like so many before me I loved 13a. Last one in was 25 d as I was looking for art or a vessel. Thanks to all.

    1. Pangrams are unlikely on a Thursday. ProXImal never (well hardly ever) uses the letter X and I don’t think RayT bothers much about them

    2. I don’t worry about pangrams as they can’t be confirmed until the puzzle has been solved and I never ‘see’ them when they are there.

  25. Thanks to proXimal and to Falcon for the review and hints. I enjoyed this one very much, a super puzzle, quite tricky, but I was on the setter’s wavelength. Found the lower half more difficult than the top. Last in was 15a, 1d and 13a made me laugh, needed the hints to parse 26&28a, favourite was 18a. Was 3*/4* for me. Hadn’t spotted the ‘x’ less pangram.

  26. I thought that was brilliant. Tough but fair, with plenty of smiles along the way and some great surface reads.
    Ticks all over the place, but I will single out 1d, 4a, 12a, 13a, 18a &19d.
    Many thanks to Falcon and to our very clever setter.

  27. Glad to see a **** rating for difficulty. I thought it was just me. Finally completed on my third attempt, when I finally got on the setter’s wavelength. 13a favourite. Ta to all.

  28. I think this was even better than yesterday. It’s very rare that my take on the degree of difficulty is less than the reviewer’s, but this is one of them. 12 and 13a were my favourites.
    Thanks to Falcon and the setter.

  29. A terrific crossword but :phew: jolly tricky – it’s taken me ages.
    I do the quickie before the cryptic and loved the pun so knew we were in for a good one.
    15a was my last one and I had to ask the BRB about the last bit – don’t think I’ve met it before.
    Too many outstanding clues to pick from so just a few are 13a and 16 and 21d. My one favourite is either 18a or 1d.
    With thanks to proXimal.
    Thanks and admiration too to Falcon.

  30. After yesterday’s dismal performance by myself I feel a little redeemed in having solved this cracker of a puzzle. It required concentration & that workmanlike approach, with the odd wavelength change.
    4*/4*! Thanks to proXimal for a very enjoyable puzzle & to Falcon for review & guidance on a couple.

  31. I found this really, really tricky, needing oodles of hints at the end. Score: proXimal 32 vs Medusa 20.
    I found the NW very manageable, then NE, then south beat me, needing lots of help there.
    Natch, fave was 1d, thanks to all who chose that as well.
    Thanks to proXimal, I enjoyed those I could solve, and to Falcon for bailing me out.

  32. *****/****. Lovely puzzle if a real challenge. Needed help in the SW corner so thanks to Falcon for the hints. My standout favourite was 13a. Thanks also to the setter.

  33. So far above my solving ability as to be stratospheric. Absolutely one of the worst backpagers for a long time as far as i am concerned. Complete waste of good printers ink for me.

    1. I didn’t know you could give five stars else I would have done so. Glad someone else thought it was so awful.

  34. That was a cracker. Tough, but beautifully clued, though I needed Mrs.Hoofit’s inspiration at the end.
    Many clues to admire. I really enjoyed 18a, very clever.
    Being pedantic, I’m not sure 13a is correct. AM ends at 12 noon, then PM starts, 1200 is neither AM or PM it 12 noon, but who cares, it was a great clue.
    Thanks all.

    1. I look at it from the perspective that noon has no duration. It is the boundary between AM and PM (or as you say, it is neither AM or PM). The moment that AM ends, PM begins with no interval in between.

      1. I was trying to be intelligent, and failed.
        Thanks for a great set of hints, cracking crossword today.

  35. One of the best. I always enjoy Thursdays puzzles more than any other day of the week. Like Kath I always solve the Quickie first and smiled at the Pun. We had this clue on August 26th in puzzle 29139. 12a The promotion of friendly relations — Thomas Telford’s forte? (6-8) I illustrated the answer and comment with a photo of a statue of James Brindley. Not a peep from the commenteriat. So thanks to Falcon for letting me know what Thomas Telford really looked like. Thanks also to ProXImal for the entertainment

  36. Quite testing but definitely worth the effort. Numerous inventive clues of which 18a and 13a (overlooking HYD’s comment) were joint Favs. It would seem there could be several more friendly (for non-golfers) clues for the three-letter word in 24a. I did think of you, Merusa, as I filled in 1d. Now that beetroot comes in other colours perhaps it is no longer appropriate as per 2d 🥵! Thank you proXimal and Falcon.

    1. Thanks, Angellov! I do miss my home, not that I’m unhappy here, but the island is so warm and friendly.

  37. Smashing crossword that took me ages to sort out with many slaps on the forehead as yet another clue revealed itself.
    13 and18a were both worthy clues of the day.
    Thanks to the X-man for a great challenge, and to Falcon for the review.

  38. To echo Gazza’s words, a superb puzzle. A real joy to solve. When we saw ‘wicked’ in 21d we thought ‘We’re not going to be fooled, look for a type of candle.’ Wrong of course. We had noted the signature pangra that confirmed the setter. Great fun.
    Thanks proXimal and Falcon.

  39. Not my cup of tea today I’m afraid, but then I never can get on ProXimal’s wavelength. Struggled to fill in 8 clues before looking at hints. After checking out 1a and 1d, realized this was way above my pay grade and should go shopping instead…

  40. Crikey, that was really tough. I managed to complete without hints – but using every other device under the sun.
    Any clues here suitable for Daily Telegraph letters page?

    1. I would say all of them but the ones that will make the letters page will be short, easily understood and very witty.

  41. Got there in the end. Took a week with no help as over in Malawi laying foundation stone for our new maternity unit. Will miss swords for next couple of weeks. Glad others found it difficult

  42. Oh dear, just seen I got 18a wrong. I thought it was socially from Scilly isles and just put in the o and a 😒

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